tv Earth Focus LINKTV December 17, 2016 3:00pm-3:31pm PST
>> at link tv we are dedicated to bringing in you depth investigations into the issues that matter to us all. hi. i'm kim spencer. every week, our original series "earth focus" tackles important environmental topics. today, we're going to lock at two reports from our investigative team. now, as you watch, i i hope you'llll remember that link tv a noncommercial independent network. we depend on your financial support to bring you original programs. and to keep link tv on the air day after day. all you have to do is dial the toll free number 1-866-485-8848 or go to our website. linktv.org. now our first report from
"earth focus" probes safety issues at nuclear power generating plants. nearly five years ago, a giant earthquake and tsunami in japan destroyed the fukushima nuclear power plant. which has the same containment design as a number of american reactors. what does that mean for us? let's watch the "earth focus" special report fukushima, can it happen in the u.s.? nly here on link tv. >> today on "earth focus" a fukushima a nuclear disasterr i the u.s.? dr. win l lyman of the e ion of ncerned scientists on the possibilities. coming up. n earth focus. >> the's no nucleareactor opating in t world tay that is cometely mune to accides. my colagues and wrote t bookbout fukushi to y to prode the mosaccuratete
representation of e accident. because ifif you don't fully understand the technical basis for the accident,t, then it's very hd d to come up wiwith solutions fofor eventing the nextxt one. our book does conclud that anan acdentntike fukushima could happen h here. and we do have t the opportunin to try to reduce t the possssibility. however, what we're seeing in the united states and the aftermath of fukushima was the various government officials including the nuclear regulatory commission and the clear industry tellingng the american p public that what happened at fukushima simply couldn't happen here. >> all of the plants that we've licensed and all o othe plants that we arare currently revevie will meet strict sasafety standadards for e earthquakesnd other natural phenonomenon. soso certainly for the existing planants we believee absolutely that they can withstanand an earthquake and they can meet the high standarards that we've put in place. >> when you start to say something cacan't happen here,
you're practicically inviting i to. becaususe you'u're going to let yoyour guard dowandd t that's t biggesesdanger. no regulator can predidict ever possible c contingency thahat c affect the nuclear powower plan you haveve to be p prepared for anytything. but it is simply too expensive to prepare for everything. in the united states, most of our plants were designed, licensed and built decades ago. and -- in the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's and they were designed to a certrtain standar that was considered to be the best knowledge at the time, for instance, what's the most severere earthquake? and the historical record, what's the highest flood? that information was taken into account.t. but in some cases, the methods that were used for ananalyzing that datata were faulty. things were left out. for instance, the impact of an upstream d dam failure was not
considered. but now we believe that to be a significant risk. the acony plalant in sosouth carolinana is one that's s been knowown for a long time to be ulnerable to a dam fale -- dam failure. owned by duke energy. a plant quadad cities in illino and river flooding could put that plant under water in which casese the operarators would ha to resort to extraordinary measures to keep the plant safe. seismic vulnerabilities is a big issue. and the most obvious vulnerable plants are those in california right nowow. therere's only one operating nuclear power plant that's diablo canyon. the other two have beenen shut down but they spent nuclear -- nuclear fuel is still on s site in those plants. inin the c central and eastern united states, over the last couple of decades, the u.s. geological survey has come to the conclusion that seismic
risk is greater thhan was previoususly believed for r a numberer of these sites. and so these are plalas where they were foformerly believed t be low risk but are now higher risk. there is one plant in the united states which really needs to be considered as a unique case. and that's the indian point nuclear plant. which is only about 25 miles from the new yorork city border. and within the 50 miles of indian point, there are about 16 million people. and so it's certainly the highest p populatition density around any nuclear plant in the country. as a result, it deserves special scrututiny. not t just for safety vulnerability but also for vulnerability to sabotage. because we know that new york historically has been one of the most desirable targets for terrorists and indian poioint i a a nuclear plant, fallout,
melted down, would be aimed directly at new york city. it has to be taken seriously as a potential sabotage target. one very impmportant aspect of fukushima is that it demonstrated that the hazards of a nuclear plant accident extend far beyond the 10 mile zone that is typically designated as the evacuation zone for a nuclear plant. here the -- in the united states the n.r.c. requires every plant to make plans available for evacuation within 10 miles. ifif it looks s like there was going to be danger, to people living beyond d 10 miles, this would be plenty of time to evacuate. fofor some p plants likeke indi poinint, you'ree talking g abou millioions off people who had n idea thatt one day they may be asked to evacuate from a densely p populated region with terrible t tragedy. and i i think that to rely on t ability to expand that evacuauation zone on n an ad d
basis if an accident happens is asking for trouble. right after fukushima happened, the chairman of the n.r.c. convened a task force to take a hard look at safety of nuclear wewer in this country. and that task force came around with 12 recommendations. so anyone who thought before fukushima that we hadn't -- no room to improve here in the united states, was probably taken aback by this thick document of all the things that we need to fix. that task force report was taken by the n.r.c. and then put through itsts regulatory me grinder. and as a result, some of its recommendations remain sosomewh intact. others were watered down. others have been discarded completely. nucleaear power is just a very complex and expensive way to boil water. if we don't fully learn the
lessons of fukushima, and incorporate them i into sfourur that we are ts here setting the stage for catastrophe. sisimply becauause we have the opportunity now toto correrect ofof the problems of the past,t and if we don't take that opportunity fully, , then we'll -- no one but ourselves to blame when -- when or if it does happen. >> we will go back to more special reporting from "earth focus" but i want to talk with you what about it takes to bring this unique programming. we created the weekly "earth focus" series 10 years ago
because no one else was covering the environment on a regular space. now with our ground-breaking reports on fracking, unsafe chemicals in the home, the pesticides that are killing our nation's honey bees and so many other topics, we make sure you are informed about threats to our environment and to ourselves. if you see the value of the "earth focus" weekly series, and if link tv is a crucial part of your life, then become a supporter today. making a contribution is easy. just visit our secure website. link.tv.org or call us at -866-458-8848. -- 1-86666-485-8848. look at what you can getet when you make a d donation. because of your financialal support that l link tv is able bring you engaging, informative and motivational programming. so make the choice right now. to become a sustaining supporter with a gift of $25 or more each month. and we will thank you with our
link tv reusable grocery bag. this spacious shoulder bag is made in the u.s.a. from recycled materials. lp both the environonment and link tv byby making your contribution today. thank you. >> we really appreciate your generous support and remember, if you choose the no gift option, all of your donation goes to link tv. and it's 100% tax deductible. you know, link tv is the only place to find the programs you've come to depend on for truly independent television. uncompromising documentaries. environmental investigations. and news from diverse global sources. link tv dares to challenge the status quo. without big corporations influencing what we broadcast. but we need your help to continue link tv's mission. generous contributions from viewers like you allow us to acquire and produce great programs like "earth focus" and
keeps link tv on the air week after week. maybe you've been sitting at home watching our programs intending to make a donation to link tv. but still haven't quite gotten around to doing it. well, there is no better time than now. just go online to our safe and secure website. that's link.tv.org or you can make your tax deductible donation by calling 1-866-485-8848. let's s take a look at ways you can help. >> link tv brings current topics, cultural events and rare and informative programming thanks to your support. take this time right now to make a generous donation of $1,000. and in return, we'll send you the best of link tv. books. d.v.d.'s and logo items. everything to keep you up to date with all that link tv has to offer. plus this collection comes with an exclusive audio u.s.b. drive filled with your favovorite ear at risk speeches.
from derrick jensen, to van dana sheba to alice walker to fomc lindsia, take this with you to be informed and inspired. because of your support link tv can bring powerful stories in unseen perspective he is. thank you. >> your contribution helps us present "earth focus." the weekly series on link tv that is the leading environmental investigative program on american television. now, we're very proud of that fact but it's a sad commentary that no one e else is covering the environmental beat. this comprehensively upon national tv. when we need it most. each week, we commit prominent air time for "earth focus" so that the people fighting threats to the environment, countering climate change, and working hard to come up with sustainable alternatives can reach the millions of people who watch link tv each week. you can heche make that happen. call 1-866-485-8848. and make a generous
contribution right now. or go online to linktv.org where you can check out the special gifts that we have to offer. it's our way of thank you for keeping link tv alive in communities all across america. remember, as a noncommercial channel, we do not sell advertising. and get no funds from the monthly fees that you pay your satellite provider. ththat's why we have to interru link tv's commercial-free schedule and turn to our viewers a couple of times a year to meet t our modest budge and to produce our unique programs that enlighten you about critical topics like the environment. so please call today. or go to our website link.tv.org. now, let's watch another "earth focus" report. cold rush looks at the opening of the arctic region as climate change melts the northern ice pack, leading to a new russian-american competition for shipping lanes and poile-gas exploration. -- and oil-gas exploration.
only here on viewer-supported link tv. >> today on "earth focus"" the global consequences of a changing arctic. coming up on "eaearth focus." >> having traveled to the arctic region it's really hard to describe the experience. of standining and looking out over m miles and mileses and mi ofof ice floes as far as the ey can see. a majesty unparalleled. on the planet. >> at the northern most part of the earth the arctic covers over five million square miles. and includes parts of the u.s., canada, greenland, iceland, norway, sweden, finland, and russia. >> the arctic is very, very difffferent dependiding on wher you go. evenen within individual countries. you might have a ve develeded aspect. in the arctic c and then you
might have underdeveloped areas. >> this is a place where with significant urban settitings, a well as s very small indigenous tribibal communities. >> n northern norway calllled t paris of the north. beautiful city. amazing infrastructure. better roads than washington, d.c. they havave underground tunnels and r roundabouts. >> much of the arctic is unpopulated and littttle explplored. winter temperatures can plunge below zero fahrenheit. summers average 50 degrees above zero or higher. >> it is a very challenging region to do work in. it is cold. . and i it is dark. and it i is r remote. >> i in the arctic eveverythihi happss a at a very slow rate. if you put your foot down on some piece o of moss or some grass it will takake years or decadedeto regrow. >> the one thing that is not happening slowly in the arctic is changnge. >> scientists tetell us that every day, they are profounundl stunned by the dramatic change
that is occurring in the arctic. >> the arctic is warming faster than any other place on earth. and one of the ways in which that is demonstrated is in the retreat of summer sea ice. which has been shrinking dramatically over the last several decades. > according t to nasa scientists, the arctic is losing about 30,000 square miles of sea ice each year. that's an area the size of maine. since 1980, 40% of sea ice cover has disappeared. scientists expect the arctic ocean to be largely free of mmer ice b by mid century or sooner. >> the ice reseeding -- receding h has a an impact on t environment and on the flora and fauna in the arctic and that changes traditional with a ways of life in greenland or alaska that hunters can no longer get to the seals because the ice is receding.g. >> but there are other more troubling consequences. melting sea ice accelerates
warming. ice reflects the sun rays back into space. but dark open waters exposed by loss of sea i ice absorb them. >> what scientntists believe is hahappening is the more that ic cacap shrinks, that d dark wate absorbs heat faster. anand it becomes the cycycle wh the warming actually begins to go faster than what has been projected. >> so the less s ice we have there, andnd the less susurface the n to bounce its rays off of, the warmer the whole planet becomes and that's what we get into what we call feedback loops. so the arctic is a bellllwether for the rest of the planet. that if the arctitic absorbs a lot more heat, becausese the ic is gone, it could have ramifications for the rest of the planet. >> the arctic is a global air conditioner. it helps regulate climamate and weather patterns. as the arctic warms, wind patterns shift affecting weather in nortrth america and europe. the melting of f the greenland
ice shsheet will a also have ramifications for the rest of the planet. it statandso raise global sea levels by 20 feet or more. >> that will impact places like bangladesh. asia. even in the united states. the louisiana coast. the florida coast. >> in will ststill take several hundred years. but thatat's many times quicker than anything we'v've previousl seen. . anand the greenland ice sheet i definitely melting att unprecedented rates. >> throughout the arctic, permafrost, frozen ground below the soil, is melting. >> permafrost which would be a veryry firm foundation year around on which to build airports, roads, schools, houses, is thawing causing foundations to sink and crumble and having buildings actually collapse. ththat's not just happening in alaska. it's happening in russia and other places as well. so the engineering and
designing and construction of buildings and public facilities has to change. it has to change pretty quickly.y. >> but p permafrost t melt is n the only problem. as the arctic sea ice melelts, storms produce stronger winds and waves. exposing coastal communities to severe erosion. >> coastal erosion, which is eating a away at the shorelinin villageses, means that people a losing schools and tanank farms. and roads. to a very powererful storm season. it dididn't use to happen. >> 180 alaska native villages are presently suffering from floods and erosion. one of them is kivalina. this bear-year island village is losing up to eight feet of shore to erosion each year. it's long-term survival is at stake. alaska's northern coast has some of the highest shoreline erosion rates the worldld. >> over 20 communities on the
coastine of northern alaska have been identified as places where either they have to move or they will have to movove. becaususe they wonon't be able be sustatained wherere they are ananymore. bubut where i is the moneney go come f from to move e those villagages? >> the w warming of f the arcti brings m many destabablizing changes. but at the same time, it opens up the r region to new oppoportunities. >> that shrinkagee of arctic summer sea ice means that people are speculating about the possibility of everything from shipping to oil and gas to additional economic development. ththat might have some rather major implications both domestically and internationally. >> right now, there are two main passages, the northern sea route or the northeast passage over the russian arctic. primarily. and then the northwest passage which is through the canadian archipelago. >> the northern sea route is the one right now that has t th most economic potential. rotterdam to tokyo, for example, from the netherlands
toto japan, is 40% shorter through the northern sea route compared to the suze canal. the northwest passage still a lot of ice. the ice likes to stay betweween all l the different iands and not realally a shortcut to anywhere. . >> the northern sesea route stands to potentialllly transfo global shipping. >> this arctic seaway -- >> today only limited traffic along the northern sea route. but turnrning this route into a global commercial highway is a strategic priority for the russian government. >> so the arctic is very closely tied a and linkeked to natitional development. in russia. if russia wants to remain prosperous or dedevelop hydro carbon resources they need to do it in the arctic. >> thehe arctitic remains one o the most proromising areas inn world. for future oil and gas opportunities. so it is an energy storehouse. there are alalso significacant minerals availalable in that region. >> there's these famous numbers
by the u.s. geologicalal survey that 13% of undiscovered oil and 30% of undiscovered n natur gass are located in the arctic. >> s shrinking. ice cap now makeses offshore exploration in the arctic feasible. most of the reserves are thought to be in the russisian and american arcrctic. >> so what rusussia needs is technology. they do not have the technology to do offsfshore drilling. so they need westernrn technology. . and theylslso needed wewestern finanancing to help. >> so what we e see areoint ventures between westernrn corporations l like shell and exxon and statete-owned compani like rozozneft and gazprom. >> after the crisis over crimea and ukraine wewestern eururopea and american sanctions have targeted technology needs. and those companies cannot provide the technology and they can't provide e the financing that would helelp. so now t that energy production has slowed. and exxonmobil has left.
its s prourks -- production n project -- - > you could argue the ukrain sanctions might have put certain development five or 10 years behind. >> the collapse of oil prices in 2014 has stalled offshore oil drilling plans by chevron and n norwegian, danish andnd french oil companies. offshore developmement in this faragal and pristine environment has some experts concerned. >> many of the technologies that have been used in the lower 4848 in respoponding to spills, whether they arere a smalall or large, ininvolve mechanical recovery systems that do not assume that they are operating in ice. and ice creates a variety of problems. in terms of responding to spills. >> a recent government study said t that if oilil is produce the -- off the coaoast of alask there's a 75% chance of an oil spill. that w would --- that could
absolutely decimate communities on t the north slope of alaska who rely on the animals in the ocean for food. if there was a 75% chance of me getting on plane and having that plane crash, there's no way i would go near it. >> environmental concerns about spills in the arctic led greenpeace activists aboard the go 0 on c sunrise to owned -- m of >> does not present any threat to safety and security of any person. or property. or the marine enenvironment. and unacceptable risk to the arctic environment. both in russia and globally. >> the first thing we have to do is to stop the hosing, stop the hosing because they're in position, it becomes unstable and may fall 15 meters on the foot of the platform. so we have to stop hosing so we can entertain the situation of
the activists. over. we propose you evacuate all personnel because we will start our -- so we thinknk that more people will be injured. >> in the end, russian authorities arrested all 30 members aboarard including two indedependent journalists. and imprisoned them for three months. this group of activists is known as the arctic 30. they were eventually granted pardon and released. >> it was a v very strong russi reaction. i think that also was telling us that rusussia is a asserting sovereignty in thehe arctic. and people who cross that sovereignty better beware. >> will the opening of the arctic lead to more clashes? willll this r resource-e-rich r bebecome a source of c conflict tension? >>o date the relationship of the eight arctic nations
includuding russia has been a good relationship. i think largely based on a pretty simple premise which is that there is more of a shared ininterest than therere is a competing interest. >> i would say that thehere's vevery little risk of escalatin tension in the arctic. that is of course not to say that the conflict somewhere else in the world could potentially mimiate into t the arctctic. >> and maybe the arctic could be a place where we can rebuild trust. and rebuild thehe dialogue with russia. because the arctic c is so important to them, maybe this is plalace where we can start again. >> if countries can come together and protect this incredible place, and say this is a place where we're notot going to e exploit, we're e goi to protect it, then i think we have a a shot at preserving our future.
>> aye. i'm kim spencer back with you after another great "earth focus" report. link tv's research shows that millions of americans watch this original series each year. and that nearly 70% of regular "earth focus" viewers take some kind of action based on what they've seen. whether it's volunteering with a group or calling their elected representative. this is the kind of impact link tv is having. but to keep us on the air, we need you to make a tax deductible contribution today. call now. toll free. 1-866-485-8848. or visit our secure website. link.tv.org. and w when you gigive, you get.
>> link tvtv brings current topics, cultural events, and rare and informative programming thanks to your support. take this time right now to make a generous donation of $1,000. and in return, we'll send you the best of link tv. books. d.v.d.'s. logo items. everything to keep you up to date with all that link tv has to offer. plus this collection comes with an exclusive audio u.s.b. drive. filled with your favorite earth at risk speeches. rom derrick jensen, to donna sheba to alice walker and thomas lindsay, take it with you to become informed and inspired and because of your support that link tv brings you powerful stories in unseen perspectives. thank you. >> we've really appreciated your generous support. and remember, if you choose the no gift option, all of your donation goes to link tv. and it's 100% tax deductible. we truly need your help to
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so from all of us here at link tv, thank you so much for joining us. >> i am jim thorton, the voice of wheel of fortune. it is great to be back with you. i'm excited to tell you about a remarkable documentary. it is called "our mockingbird." it is about two high schools in birmingham, alabama -- one in a white neighborhood, the other african-american. they decide to put on a